Labelling Abusers — The Desire to be Vindicated


2016-07-09 by Object of Contempt

Over the course of the last 12 months or so, I have seen a couple of blog posts addressing a victim’s very common desire to tell an abuser that they are a narcissist or borderline, or slap some other psychological label on their forehead. I have learned that it can be very difficult to be sure of a diagnosis even when trained in tbe field. Since abuse can be covert, even people close to both the victim and abuser may not accurately know which is which.

I commented about this on another blog, and decided it could stand as a post on its own as a blog post with a few edits. I hope it is helpful.

Neither my younger brother nor I were valued for affection. True affection, affirmation, encouragement, and even just a peaceful existence were frequently withheld from us. I was the sensitive, responsible older brother who kept trying to find ways to appease and please. My brother had the stronger will and was more likely to resist the abuse (which usually meant it got worse). We both took the role of scapegoat growing up. Especially when I got older and lost confidence that I could do anything that my mom would approve of, it became worse for me. My brother rebelled much more blatantly than I did, but became more of a golden child after serving in the military and getting married. My dad went along and believed every accusation of incompetence, foolishness, or sin she leveled at either kid. I gave up trying to please or find favor. So, although I didn’t go as far as my brother, I did passively resist. As time went on it grew even easier for her to accuse me because I was left with little motivation or confidence. My mom accuses me of not being forgiving, and being irresponsible. The last thing she would ever do is to admit specifics of how she treated us and be moved by compassion to make things right.

Then… I married an emotionally abusive wife. Different style, so I didn’t recognize it for quite a while. Plus, I never knew love could be given freely… or respect, or affirmation, or encouragement… She really saw me coming. She appears to everyone else as a quiet, vulnerable saint, but she is manipulative, stubborn, and cold — but just to me. Others are more useful as a positive narcissistic supply, unless she needs to enlist flying monkeys. Her control is more of the strict “gatekeeping” type. She doesn’t micro-manage, but there is no time when she will allow emotional intimacy or any marital issue to even be discussed candidly. She relies on her FOO (family of origin) to help create discord– lots of triangulation. She supports them and counters me as a rule. They are toxic, contemptuous towards me, and any attempt to create boundaries is circumvented, and used to label me as abusive (isolating her from family). After she encouraged false inferences of emotional abuse, fear I might physically hurt her, and adultery, I was seriously reeling from isolation and having been verbally abused by nearly all the men in my church (who ignored my prior requests for help).

I give those very incomplete descriptions, not to vent my frustrations, but to provide context. It should be obvious that explaining to them about “10 Things That Prove Your [FILL_IN_THE_BLANK] Is A Narcissist,” would only provide them with a list of ten things to falsely accuse a victim of. They don’t apologize, speak candidly, show goodwill, pursue the truth, try to heal, or empathize. And, they, especially my wife, have gaslighted me a lot. They both think every problem starts and stops with me. Labelling them as sociopathic, or character disordered would only inspire another round of their favorite style of rage. DARVO and direct countering (rebutting and denying what I say) is the “kindest” response I could expect from them.

What I think could have helped long ago (I think it is probably far too late) is if other decent people were willing to speak up and identify cruel actions for what they are. No labels, no disorders, just saying, “hey! Why would any decent person shred a child’s spirit like that?? and your own =son on top of it all??” Among other things, I wish someone would have said to my wife, “your dad/brother/mom did WHAT?? You chose your husband, and told them not to show their faces until they changed and explicitly made it right didn’t you?”

I asked counselors, pastors, elders, friends for help. Not a single one had anything to suggest beyond, “I’ll be praying” (which I seldom believe), or “just love/honor them… that’s what Jesus wants.” After my wife smeared me by insinuating that I might hurt her, there were tons of flying monkeys to add to toxic in-laws who were willing to believe anything negative about me. No one will call out the actual wrong. They won’t even say, “if you were to do {whatever} in this situation, it would not just be wrong but cruel and incredibly hurtful. You would need to directly repent and actively seek reconciliation.”

I do not believe either my mom or wife would respond in a good way. The social pressure of people being willing to identify kindness and evil, however, would probably made things more bearable for me, and provided an opportunity for them to know that it is more than one person they have to control. They could even repent (i.e.: change their minds and actions)! In a time when society truly needs people to stand up for what is good and right, it is unfortunate that a rebuke is so commonly seen as a matter of meanness or judging. Discernment, and seeking the welfare of people around us so that we are willing to identify evil, this is kindness to victims and society in general.

I still have no help, no one watching my back, no one who really believes me enough to stand with me and call a spade a spade. As it stands, I am the only voice that is for me, and I am just an object of contempt.


2 thoughts on “Labelling Abusers — The Desire to be Vindicated

  1. Mary says:

    Wow….I certainly feel your pain and I have a lot of compassion for you. May I recommend a great book to you that will bring you so much peace and clarity? I just read it and it was so helpful . It’s called “Unloving” by Henry W Wright. It will provide a lot of insight and support. I pray it will be helpful to you.


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